When Making Apes Into Movie Stars, It’s All in the Eyes | Underwire | Wired.com
With a keen understanding of the old “eyes are the window to the soul” truism, Steven Spielberg equipped E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial with a look similar to Albert Einstein’s deep-set visage. In a pair of remarkable new movies in theaters now, charismatic simians — the aliens among us — bridge the species gap with their soulful gazes.
Both Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Project Nim remind us there’s plenty of nonhuman intelligent life in the universe. Just check the cages at a university research lab. Both films raise intriguing questions about the scientific imperative: Does medical progress require inhumane treatment of sentient beings with DNA quite similar to ours? If primates could talk, what would they say? At what point does a chimp’s charm wear thin and turn savage?
Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which opens Friday, follows San Francisco scientist Will (played by James Franco) as he seeks a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which is slowly killing his father (John Lithgow). Lab experiments unexpectedly produce a super-bright baby chimp named Caesar, who moves in with Will and his family.